I was asked by one Alex Crowley to take part in THE WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR, and so, in kind, I am doing so. I’d like to think that I am worthy of being nominated do this, a virtual tour of writers and of writing process, but, in retrospect, Mr. Crowley could have done better. Where I was once a sharp, eager hitter of deadlines, an active participant in our burgeoning community, I find myself, of late, rather bloated and washed out and somewhat bitter. Should I shake a fist at the screen or would you prefer a hand written note? What do I know about writing process, much less my own? My primary care physician (PCP!) believes this oppositional attitude has to do with my diet—she is avidly anti-gluten—but I know something deeper is at work here. Nonetheless, and with half a tumbler of cheap red wine at ready (a tiny dried out purple crust where my lips meet), I give it a go, with apologies to the venerable lineage of fantastic poets (Matt Hart who tagged Katie Byrum who tagged fine and upstanding Alex) that brought this upon me. I’ve hyperlinked the names of my forbearers to their responses, in the hopes that you see what genuine and lovely and proper uses of this forum look like.

This writing process blog tour involves answering some questions, so I am providing these, as well as some off the cuff ramblings that, if you squint just right, might form loose facsimiles of the “answers.”

  1. What are you working on right now?

Many years ago, when I was itching to escape from my hometown of Cleveland, OH, I took part in a summer creative writing workshop, and I can’t remember who it was (Kelly Link? Terry Borchers? Tim Siebles? This was 12 years ago, so you’ll have to excuse me), but an instructor there pointed out that she or he liked to work on several things at once. The reasoning for this of course was that if she or he ever got stuck on one project, there would be one or two others that could be taken on. This sort of strategic multifarious approach struck me as prudent, especially as one who writes mostly poetry. I try to maintain a few different projects at a time, so that, on the one hand, none of them grow stale, and on the other, none become overwhelming. This does not always work—something will get me and I won’t be able to drop it, or, you know, Netflix—but I try to maintain a few things on the old rolodex, as it were.

It should be added that I am typically attracted to working in series, or with some sort of organizing principle: I’ll devise some sort of top down order or idea and use that to guide the work (more on that later). At the moment, I have two such projects in progress. One is a series of observational prose poems (tentatively) called “Floor Plan.” Here, in the manner of Francis Ponge, I am taking objects and features of an office building, and sort of describing them in an attempt to make the mundane, the everyday, more life-like or even (I hate this word) “magical.” I have one about “The Ceiling Fans,” another about “The Stairs,” and, even “The Outlets” (the latter can be read on The Flexist). A half turn on the rolodex, and we find another series, “An Annotated Guide to the Twilight Zone,” which directly engages with, riffs off of, and sort of reinterprets episodes of Rod Serling’s classic 50s sci-fi TV show. The latter I am getting closer to completing, as it has been going on (and off) for the last three years. Lastly, and in response to the serial nature of the work I tend to do, I have been forcing myself to write at least one ‘one-off’ poem a week. Basically, this allows me to just be there writing, and to thereby not pressure or limit myself with the “weight” of the project. I also have been working on some book reviews, and I’ve been watching a full length manuscript of poems (hee-yah my ‘first!’) get kicked around in various slush piles. So it goes.

  1. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

This is actually sort of difficult to answer well, isn’t it? I could say something about how my particular range of influences—musical, literary, artistic, cinematic, familial—have combined with a typically atypical personal history to bring you the snowflake that sits here, but I don’t know how helpful that is, or necessary. While there are certain aspects of my work that are inevitably “me” or the “me” that exists in writing—and some of these things might set me apart from other poets—I aim also to challenge myself, to not have a Mark Gurarie “house-style.” I have no idea if I actually succeed in this, or even, whether such efforts are actually warranted. I believe it was Rosemary Waldrop who mentioned that she turned to collage methodology because she wanted to stop writing about her mother and the fragmented reality of growing up in a bombed out post WWII Germany, but, ultimately, she could never escape these themes because they were a completely ingrained part of her. Her mother and her cratered mother country would always be somewhere in there.

In this sense, as the first one born of Soviet immigrants in the United States, I probably have a somewhat schizophrenic approach to language: I am and forever will be a Russian speaking child, but I am an American English speaking adult (or kid-dult or something). Certainly, and this is by no means an unique experience to anyone who has immigrated or was raised in an immigrant’s house, I felt somewhat ‘other’ from my peers. Growing up in the 80s, for instance, I actually was rooting for Gorbachev and I was convinced that Reagan was going to blow up the world. I would imagine vestiges of this up-bringing are there, and I am especially attuned to linguistic mistakes such as those my parents still sometimes make (my father, for instance, will drop off the word “up” from the phrase “pick up,” so that he’ll say: “I’ll pick you at seven”). I am also a musician, I sometimes “sing” (more in the Jello Biafra vein than, say, Otis Redding) and while there are vast differences between the way lyrics work versus poems, I do think that I sometimes come to language with a musical ear. That’s not that unique either. Who knows, it’s evolving: ten years ago I was writing highly auto-biographical poems about living in San Francisco, four years ago I was a part-time collagist, and in ten years, maybe I’ll just say fuck it, and be all pastoral and shit. Well, anyway, I veered off somewhere there, so I’ll just keep going.

  1. Why do you write what you do?

I used to joke, un-funnily, that I was writing poetry for the big bucks, but really trying to change the world through my retail work (I no longer work in retail). I guess it all has to do with connection: with the possibility of having a reader there, and sort of being able to talk to her or him, even transport this reader through the power of words and sounds and ideas. I write, I think, because reading has done so much for me, and I want to be able to do that for someone else, which now sounds a little masturbatory.  There is certainly an ego element in there: I want people—some people, any people—to like my writing, to see that it has merit. I used to also tell people that I had to do it, that this was a necessity for me to exist, but I am not so sure any more, though I do think I’d be miserable without it. Ultimately, it is a privilege to be a writer, even if writers typically feel starved in this regard, we are damn lucky to have the means and the faculty and the time and the desire to do this funny, heartbreaking, sometimes frustrating, sometimes amazing thing. To be sure—and I think this is the case for most any artist—my creative production is probably also a reaction to that good old human fear of death, of being lost into the dust of the massive universe. I probably really do write with the hope of being read sometime in the distant future, and, in that way, to live FOREVER. It should be added, though, and this is where it definitely gets masturbatory, it does give me great pleasure, a sense of accomplishment, to be able to make something of the disordered and arbitrary progression and flow of my thoughts and the language that is there around all of us. It is not that I have a story to tell, but rather that I am here and able to do something with the language it takes to tell it.

  1. How does your writing process work?

I do not currently have a specific regimen—in the past I have forced myself to write a poem a day, etc.—but I will set weekly or monthly, and now even annual goals for myself. Like I mention above, I try to be working on several projects at once. I do not know if this is the most ‘efficient’ approach, but I like to think that it keeps any individual piece or project from becoming dominating or suffocating. I also have been finding myself shifting from periods of time when I am more of an editor—tinkering with lines, reviving forgotten poems, deciding to throw the crappy ones out—and periods where I am generating more content. I certainly go through a lot of drafts these days, and I’ve learned that it sometimes takes stepping away from a poem (or series or manuscript) for some time to really truly understand it, to see it for what it needs. Insert gardening metaphor here.

At its best, though, I like it when my writing is taking me somewhere unexpected, and, paradoxically, this is why I often find myself working with constraints or in a serial fashion. The formal or thematic limitations tend to actually force me out of my day to day thought process. To be sure, I am a big proponent, in practice, of attempting to work beyond the scope of just my own language. Like so many writers have historically and still do today, I view daily life as a constant source of amazing found language, which I can then appropriate and hopefully make delicious. It could be something overheard, a headline online, a sound bite from NPR, a line from a poem or a song, but it is that interaction between my own internal monologue and the language surrounding that can become very interesting. As much as possible, I strive to ‘get down’ more than I need because I know that what follows will be an intense period of editing and refining. It can be painful, of course, or frustrating, but, in my view, one needs to just keep searching, and the sweat will bear it out. Most of what you get out of the mine is coal, but look over there: a diamond (for the purposes of this illustration, by the way, this mine is ethically run and does not employ slave labor)! The task then becomes to cut it, set it in the ring, and, well, get back to digging. I suppose, then, that I run a highly un-profitable diamond mine.


Up next, I am tagging Seth Graves, Alissa Fleck, Christine Kanownik, well, and you! Go ahead, post your answers on your blog, tag three other writers, keep it rolling. Become your own insurrection! Throw a snow ball! Audience participation! Friends! Ignore the fact that I basically failed the intricate structure of this process blog tour!

Alissa Fleck is a freelance writer/journalist, poet and photographer who lives in Fort Greene with her cat, Apple. Alissa plays soccer and is a chess enthusiast. She edits THE FLEXIST ( and has been widely published. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaFleck.
Her post will appear on the (fucking kick-ass) Flexist.
Seth Graves is a candidate for the Ph.D. in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Pace University and the New York City College of Technology, CUNY. His journalism, poetry, reviews, and interviews have appeared in various publications, recently Coldfront, H_NGM_N; Barrow Street; No, Dear; La Fovea;VAYAVYA; and The Boiler Journal.
His post will appear on
Christine Kanownik’s work can be found on: The Huffington Post, jubilat, Lungfull! Magazine, MOTHERBOARD, and H_NGM_N. Her chapbook We are Now Beginning to Act Wildly was published by Diez Press. She is the co-founder and editor of Electric Pumas.
Her post will appear on
You are the poor soul who has come to a point in your life, where you are reading this general bio. This is where you are born. This is where you went to school. This is where your writing appears. This where your response will appear.

A Few of the Iguanas I Have Met


We have not forgotten to reach for the reflection in the swimming pool. Not much of a humanitarian, but who can blame him. To at least care about something, to swim from end to  other end and repeat.



Spectacular unobstructed ocean iguanas! Amazing flat ~~30,027 sq ft lot with 180 degree iguanas of the Pacific as well as mountain iguanas! Nestled on a quiet, private cul-de-sac, this is a beautiful opportunity to iguana something extraordinary. Location is close to Santa Monica with easy access to the scales, but with the tranquility and peaceful privacy that make Malibu unique. Seeing is believing in iguana…you won’t be disappointed.




The glass too is sweating. An iguana in your throat keeps you from conversation, so dancing will do. An iguana in the eye of what you were blathering on about fifteen minutes ago, it catches your pants leg or lack thereof. Steps are there for the cold blooded as well as the warm; touch your Tony Danza skin, and call me at 4:23 in the morning. Bring trumpet.



The green iguana can weigh up to 18 pounds of heroin (8 kg; Afghani preferably) and can reach a length of five to seven feet (1.5 to 2 m). This Iggy has a long body covered with soft leathery scales, a long tail and short legs. In Iggy’s imagination (commonly termed iguanination), its hard, long tail is used as a weapon and for balance when climbing or crawling on glass. Its Dorian Gray like torso has a greenish-gray hue and can change color slightly (but not nearly as well as some lizards, such as Andy Warhol). Female and juvenile male iguanas are a much brighter green than David Bowie. It has feet with five very long toes with sharp claws on the ends, used especially for holding the needle in the broken morning. The iguana has a row of spines that extend along its back from the base of its head all the way to the tip of its tail, descending in size as the decades roll onward. It also has a dorsal crest at the base of its head and a dewlap underneath its chin. The iguana also has inherited a row of sharp serrated teeth.



What I am proposing is a reappraisal of what we have already forgotten about decency, basking in the late Summer Sun, a bright green in the scales. What I am proposing might be better rendered as a fruit-basket, something to pass along, to watch dissolve one apple at a time, on shoddy apricot. Iguana me this: Does your aquarium have the appropriate cacti? Do the crickets sometimes forget? A lizard is a wheel spinning, but leading you nowhere. Split ends are still an ending, and I have sharpened enough teeth. To internalize iguana, to sing happily in the choir.



And hey, forget not thy rock’n’roll lizards.

In the margins. It will be mental.



Farrah Field is the author of Wolf and Pilot and Rising(Four Way Books, 2009) and the chapbook Parents (Immaculate Disciples Press, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications including Sixth Finch, Ploughshares, Harp & Altar, Lit, Typo, La Petite Zine, and Drunken Boat. Two of her poems were selected by Kevin Young for The Best American Poetry 2011. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Harp & Altar andColdfront. She lives in Brooklyn where she co-hosts an event series called Yardmeter Editions. She occasionally
blogs and is co-owner of Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop.

Kiely Sweatt spent the last 5 years in Barcelona, where she started up Prostibulo Poetico and co directed Tri Lengua, a multilingual reading series, which she now no co directs with Ray DeJesus in NY. She is founding editor of Libro Rojo, and co-editor of The Translation Book, Volume 1. Her work has…

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It’s freaking on. Tremble in whatever it is you call excitement.



Christie Ann Reynolds is the author of Revenge for Revenge (Coconut Books 2013) and the chapbooks Revenge Poems (Supermachine 2010); Girl Boy Girl Boy (with Ben Fama, Corresponding Society 2010); idiot heart (The New School Chapbook Contest 2008). In 2003 Stephen Dunn chose her as the recipient of an Academy of American Poets undergraduate poetry award at Hofstra University. She is also a 2012 Poets & Writers Amy Award winner. Christie Ann lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she is the co-curator of the poetry and visual arts reading series Totem. She teaches at Metropolitan Montessori School.

Brian Foley‘s first collection of poems, The Constution, is forthcoming from Black Ocean. He’s authored several chapbooks including Going Attractions (Greying Ghost, 2012) & TOTEM, out soon in jeans from Fact-Simile Editions. Recent poems have appeared in IO: A Journal of New American Poetry, ILK, Sixth Finch, The…

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I would like to make you a bouqet







Image-Mark Gurarie


I Sing an Outlaw Eccentric, or L’histoire de Bonnie et Clyde

If it is written on paper, it is malleable and can be bent in any number of ways, or in fact get burned. Nothing is safe, so long as it is written down. You know, of course, the story of Jesse James. That being the case, it is true that the outlaws among us, at least on film, are the better dressed. Abiding by the rule of law inevitably implies a kind of acquiescence, limits possibilities, privileges the mundane, here, good citizen, your tax form. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, then, a glossy version of swag: Brigitte Bardot with a tommy gun, Gainsbourg seated on the steps and smoking. Let’s go get’em, says Jay Z in the passenger seat.  Try to keep this in mind: this is not a story about Jesse James, it is actually a story about Jay Z, which is to say this a story about alliteration: Beyonce and Bonnie and  Bardot, about the side of a highway in France or Mexico, and sitting around the camp fire in Montana is probably not in the cards. Like magicians, Jay Z and Beyonce are nimble, changing vehicles, a step ahead of la Police, you see, and in another room, tac tac tac Serge lip-syncs, or even maybe sings, and her tommy gun is aimed at strings that may or may not have anything to do with the heart.  A life of sin is all I need, a kaleidoscope, imperfect like no one who walks on this earth is. And Clyde Barrow is doubtless what Bonnie nee Beyonce is thinking about, stroking a horse on a baja California beach a half hour after sunset, training the cross hairs. For surely, a gun is more menacing before it is shot. For surely Bonnie and Clyde will get caught.

–Mark Gurarie

The Manifesto is itself a Revision or, I am Bubble Gum; I have poppers

When in the course of marginalized events, the necessary bonds which tie so few us to even fewer—by which I mean “you” to “me” and “here” “now”— become extraneous; become bogged down by their own absurdity or perhaps it would be more accurate to say lack thereof; become too much of a silly appropriation, or not enough of one; or one that is silly but in an increasingly more meaningless way, it becomes the inalienable duty of those assembled here— by which I mean “me” “here” and “now” and therefore by extension “you” and “here”— to break aforementioned bonds, tenuous/nonexistent as they may be, and in doing so to create new ones. Where there once was a cat’s cradle, here, find an unsolved Rubik’s Cube, a kaleidoscope with a smudged viewfinder, a different drag, a brand new joke that resembles and is deeply indebted to the previous joke, the joke that precedes it in evolutionary progression. In the parlance of another history altogether, one often falsely accused of being linear, of working in a progression (while often working with progressions): The Sex Pistols dissolve into PiL, Joe Strummer grows tired of The Clash and becomes Mescalero, NWA splits into a five headed hip-hop hydra of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella, the Jackson 5 become the Jacksons become the place where Michael Jackson forgot to grow up. Where are our Talking Heads, David Byrne? The point is: we are allowed to live under the delusion that we can change our minds about things, and perhaps even, believe that such minute rewirings are in fact and some actually objective level important. And “you” “here” are witness to such re-birthing, or more cynically put, rebranding. Tao Lin is going down, but I will remain neither. Let us then dive through this screen together, or not at all, because it is so important that it is not in fact important. Choosing from a list the appropriate emoticon, commenting on a hair cut as if it were a masterpiece in oil and found materials, writing off the undeniable tidal shifts while proclaiming a skepticism about the idea of a generational identity. Give me your chewed up bubble gum, dear readership under double digits, or give me poppers (if you even know what they are). I have teeth to rot; I have tastes to kill; I have a brand new mane and perhaps thereby a brand new name.


-Mark Gurarie

I am at least 75% mod

I realized when it was too cold to posture otherwise any longer. A burning sensation in my throat, dry mouth, as if the years of self-delusion were a thirst gone unfulfilled, a laughable memory, all that time scruffy, unkempt, no diagonal lines. I was thirsty, and so I filled a jar with water. Caterpillar, I wanted to refer to myself as Caterpillar and so I wondered about what this mod-me would like, what books he would misquote and how drunkenly; what colour the Vespa, and how many unfinished splatter paintings. I considered the practical matters, that it will be getting even colder. I murmured to myself: what does a mod do in the cold? The record player is on, The Small Faces, the side-B waiting to touch needle, beckoning to the tribe of mods international, the global mods, the East London of everywhere. I was no longer rocker, at last, this Feeling:

A mod me, of course, would have to undergo some serious and potentially invasive procedures. One does not overnight become a mod, rather one is always mod, carries mod eggs, an essential mod-ness. Or it should take only 15 minutes. I knew all this, but found myself doubtful, concerned overmuch. “Fifteen Mods Trampled in Berlin Night Club.” I had read that the other day, and there was a knife in the room. A dangerous kind of slinging of sub-culture, this practitioner mod who still smokes cigarettes, flask tucked into purse, the boots of the Hip Dead Goddess. A mod me would know better how to snap, would know who’s house, who to be humble in front of, and for whom to show-off. I thought of Oscar Wilde, of course, who said, “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

Some days I would grow hungry but refuse to eat in a casual manner. A mod-me starving us, slouching in the living room.

It was then that I could become militant in my identification. The mod-me had become teen-aged, as it were and so I learned how to sneer, didn’t trust authority, tried to get arrested. This was very troubling, some sneaky cognitive dissonance at work, and I was surrounded by grainy footage. I thought of Berlin, again, I looked at pictures, I took notes. There in front of us, and at last- the sharp teeth of the comb, scraping the scalp of the commons. Or a promise of that nature, a grand mod promise, for even in mod there is something aspirational at work, the never ending path towards quintessential mod. Mod is a time, a time signature, I would remind myself.

As the sun rose on East London, on Brighton, on all or none of us, I was alone and awake, a shard on the broken window of last night and all that. It was then that the mod-me finally coughed, collected his little jacket, tightened the shoe-laces on his pointy Italian shoes which is to say that I realized the promise of mod, the mod ideal, is itself, a kind of performance. A mod drag at work. A mod me, chewing bubble gum, round sun-glasses, heading out the door. But of course, it was very very cold, when at last, I saw her.

-Mark Gurarie

Future Citizen of the Looming Tomorrow

On December 22nd of this year, as in others, you will be in full interaction and at all times accessible. A text window will pop up and you will touch it. The conversations had with Siri will be written into the fabric of this overcast sky, the pertinent bits of your processing will glow in sequence, These Thresholds Will Not Stand. Gray is even now no longer a subject of debate, inchoate mass though it sometimes seems to be. Turn on storage capabilities, create a folder for when this packet of silica gel is the kind you will be able to eat. Everything is archived, modeled on infinite capability, the spinning madness, the swirl and cesspool in the streaming commentary, trolls’ avatars dressed in delightful fabric pixels; you will feed on the newsfeed, Future Citizen of the Looming Tomorrow, and it will taste of agave syrup, overripe ambrosia, of fluffy cotton cloud, so many clicks away. Questions of the terrestrial sort seem to elicit a null response. The chronometers are fast at work inside their translation engines; there will be the search term to guide you no longer.

Hallelujah Mars Angel: Magma’s Köhntarkösz Anteria (2004)

I am a musician, but I’m another type of musician

-Sun Ra

The fanfare here in some way a reminder, The Check Engine Light Is On, America; choir seems to be chanting Harrison Ford, and maybe it is time to wonder about questions of archeology.

I find it may be easiest to describe this expedition in the alien progressive case, that from here, you are no longer merely strumming along, you are floating, weightless momentarily, the nausea will subside, you will see. In these broadcasts we have inverted languages and an orb spinning the similingling-lahng repeated in choir of some strange and highly evolved kinds of creatures. Paranoia inducing repetitions, hypnotic in their insistence and then. Spaces. A frantic energy always evolving in and around the fact that it never ends, it is never ending, but just evolving, changing shapes, the winding around themselves lines, as if tied to one another. In modulation and variation, waxing rhapsodic these are Kind and Gentle Folk, the selfsame you heard tell about in the Sagas of your tribe. Consider their simple invective: soønsoøndoveresang chameleons asking us, pleading us, the audience of one, in the head phones, to just listen. The, shall we say God-like Listener. Well she thinks that an album can be a love letter to the apocalypse, to the concept of infinity, and he to the fact that there is only so much time for these matters. Egregious Self Aware And Thereby Kind of Annoying Digression: Stevie Wonder’s first record is called Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius. A warm welcome from many humans follows. I would play Köhntarkösz to Stevie Wonder and ask him what he thinks. If I had the vinyl. 


This is best seen as a kind of voyage, you see, maybe it always is with Magma, or must have been. But it’s a voyage inside the parenthesis, you know, your parenthesis (the mind. The mind, your own mind, you can hold it and it holds nothing, it holds everything, there will be an epic poem, you are thinking in your mind, an epic poem for multiple voices, in multiples, to adopt a kind of ambitious scope your mind is then also a sprint towards infinity and to know how to have written this, to hold that key change, that threatening ooh that compelling ahh. Each a ship you can sail. It is hardly surprising, then, that I have entirely lost track of the time, has it been 11 minutes or 44. A broken chromometer, isn’t that what you call it in your solar system? And, since I’ve got you here, yes, it sounds like it’s coming from the inside of a goddamn volcanic mountain, a hollow mountain, I suppose, recorded, and it came from a book, a very special book, a very special ancient book with calligraphy and illustrations, the choir all suddenly fi-fi-fa-fa set-ah and neither you nor I even know what they look like, but picture hooded types, robes, funky and zany outer space chic, the tallest one the least interesting, the tallest one the most interesting. Riding the equivalent of horses, into swirling unrest, into storms, it is certainly raining.

-Mark Gurarie